Joel 3:2
I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.
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(2) The valley of Jehoshaphat.—Some fifty years before Joel prophesied the kingdom of Judah had been menaced by an imposing confederacy of hostile tribes. It was an occasion of great anxiety. A national fast was proclaimed, and after it Jehoshaphat engaged and completely routed the enemy in a valley in the wilderness of Tekoa. (See 2 Chronicles 20) The victory was an occasion of immense exultation, and seems to supply the imagery with which Joel describes the day of the Lord. The name of Jehoshaphat was at some period given to the Kedron Valley, but it is here used rather in its grammatical meaning as the scene of the Divine judgment, the words signifying “the valley where Jehovah judgeth.”

3:1-8 The restoration of the Jews, and the final victory of true religion over all opposers, appear to be here foretold. The contempt and scorn with which the Jews have often been treated as a people, and the little value set upon them, are noticed. None ever hardened his heart against God or his church, and prospered long.I will gather all nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat - It may be that the imagery is furnished by that great deliverance which God gave to Jehoshaphat, when "Ammon and Moab and Edom come against" him, "to cast God's people out of" His "possession," which "He gave" them "to inherit" 2 Chronicles 20:11, and Jehoshaphat appealed to God, "O our God, wilt Thou not judge them?" and God said, "the battle is not yours but God's," and God turned their swords everyone against the other, "and none escaped. And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah" (blessing); "for there they blesed the Lord" 2 Chronicles 24, 26. So, in the end, He shall destroy antichrist, not by human aid, but "by the breath of His mouth," and then the end shall come and lie shall sit on the throne of His glory to judge all nations. Then shall none escape of those gathered against Judah and Jerusalem, but shall be judged of their own consciences, as those former enemies of His people fell by their own swords.

That valley, however, is nowhere called "the valley of Jehoshaphat." It continued to be "called the valley of Berachah," the writer adds, "to this day." And it is so called still. Caphar Barucha, "the village of blessing," was still known in that neighborhood in the time of Jerome ; it had been known in that of Josephus . Southwest of Bethlehem and east of Tekoa are still 3 or 4 acres of ruins , bearing the name Bereikut , and a valley below them, still bearing silent witness to God's ancient mercies, in its but slightly disguised name, "the valley of Bereikut" (Berachah). The only valley called the "valley of Jehoshaphat" , is the valley of Kedron, lying between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, incircling the city on the east.

There Asa, Hezekiah, and Josiah cast the idols, which they had burned 1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 30:14; 2 Kings 23:6, 2 Kings 23:12. The valley was the common burying-place for the inhabitants of Jerusalem . "There" was the garden where Jesus oftentimes resorted with His disciples; "there" was His Agony and Bloody Sweat; there Judas betrayed Him; thence He was dragged by the rude officers of the high priest. The temple, the token of God's presence among them, the pledge of His accepting their sacrifices which could only be offered there, overhung it on the one side. There, under the rock on which that temple stood, they dragged Jesus, "as a lamb to the slaughter" Isaiah 53:7. On the other side, it was overhung by the Mount of "Olives," from where, "He beheld the city and wept over it," because it "knew" not "in" that its "day, the things which belong to its peace;" whence, after His precious Death and Resurrection, Jesus ascended into, heaven.

There the Angels foretold His return, "This heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven" Acts 1:11. It has been a current opinion, that our Lord should descend to judgment, not only in like manner, and in the like Form of Man, but in the same place, over this valley of Jehoshaphat. Certainly, if so it be, it were appropriate, that He should appear in His Majesty, where, for us, He bore the extremest shame; that He should judge "there," where for us, He submitted to be judged. "He sheweth," says Hilary (in Matthew 25), "that the Angels bringing them together, the assemblage shall be in the place of His Passion; and meetly will His Coming in glory be looked for there, where He won for us the glory of eternity by the sufferings of His humility in the Body." But since the Apostle says, "we shall meet the Lord in the air," then, not "in" the valley of Jehoshaphat, but "over" it, in the clouds, would His throne be. : "Uniting, as it were, Mount Calvary and Olivet, the spot would be well suited to that judgment wherein the saints shall partake of the glory of the Ascension of Christ and the fruit of His Blood and Passion, and Christ shall take deserved vengeance of His persecutors and of all who would not be cleansed by His Blood."

God saith, "I will gather all nations," of the gathering together of the nations against Him under antichrist, because He overrules all things, and while they, in "their" purpose, are gathering themselves against His people and elect, He, in His purpose secret to them, is gathering them to sudden destruction and judgment, "and will bring them down;" for their pride shall be brought down, and themselves laid low. Even Jewish writers have seen a mystery in the word, and said, that it hinteth "the depth of God's judgments," that God "would descend with them into the depth of judgment" , "a most exact judgment even the most hidden things."

His very presence there would say to the wicked , "In this place did I endure grief for you; here, at Gethsemane, I poured out for you that sweat of water and Blood; here was I betrayed and taken, bound as a robber, dragged over Cedron into the city; hard by this valley, in the house of Caiaphas and then of Pilate, I was for you judged and condemned to death, crowned with thorns, buffeted, mocked and spat upon; here, led through the whole city, bearing the Cross, I was at length crucified for you on Mount Calvary; here, stripped, suspended between heaven and earth, with hands, feet, and My whole frame distended, I offered Myself for you as a Sacrifice to God the Father. Behold the Hands which ye pierced; the Feet which ye perforated; the Sacred prints which ye anew imprinted on My Body. Ye have despised My toils, griefs, sufferings; ye have counted the Blood of My covenant an unholy thing; ye have chosen to follow your own concupiscences rather than Me, My doctrine and law; ye have preferred momentary pleasures, riches, honors, to the eternal salvation which I promised; ye have despised Me, threatening the fires of hell.

Now ye see whom ye have despised; now ye see that My threats and promises were not vain, but true; now ye see that vain and fallacious were your loves, riches, and dignities; now ye see that ye were fools and senseless in the love of them; but too late. "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." But ye who believed, hoped, loved, worshiped Me, your Redeemer, who obeyed My whole law; who lived a Christian life worthy of Me; who lived soberly, godly and righteously in this world, looking for the blessed hope and this My glorious Coming, "Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom of heaven prepared for you from the foundation of the World - And these shall go into everlasting fire; but the righteous into life eternal." Blessed he whoso continually thinketh or foreseeth, provideth for these things."

And will plead with them there - Woe to him, against whom God pleadeth! He saith not, "judgeth" but "pleadeth," making Himself a party, the Accuser as well as the Judge , "Solemn is it indeed when Almighty God saith, "I will plead. He that hath ears to hear let him hear." For terrible is it. Wherefore also that "Day of the Lord" is called "great and terrible." For what more terrible than, at such a time, the pleading of God with man? For He says, "I will plead," as though He had never yet pleaded with man, great and terrible as have been His judgments since that first destruction of the world by water. Past are those judgments on Sodom and Gomorrah, on Pharaoh and his hosts, on the whole people in the wilderness from twenty years old and upward, the mighty oppressions of the enemies into whose hands He gave them in the land of promise; past were the four Empires; but now, in the time of antichrist, "there shall be tribulation, such as there had not been from the beginning of the world." But all these are little, compared with that great and terrible Day; and so He says, "I will plead," as though all before had not been, to "plead.""

God maketh Himself in such wise a party, as not to condemn those unconvicted; yet the "pleading" has a separate awfulness of its own. God impleads, so as to allow Himself to be impleaded and answered; but there is no answer. He will set forth what He had done, and how we have requited Him. And we are without excuse. Our memories witness against us; our knowledge acknowledges His justice; our conscience convicts us; our reason condemns us; all unite in pronouncing ourselves ungrateful, and God holy and just. For a sinner to see himself is to condemn himself; and in the Day of Judgment, God will bring before each sinner his whole self.

For My people - o: "God's people are the one true Israel, "princes with God," the whole multitude of the elect, foreordained to eternal life." Of these, the former people of Israel, once chosen of God, was a type. As Paul says, "They are not all Israel which are of Israel" Romans 9:6; and again, "As many as walk according to this rule" of the Apostle's teaching, "peace be on them and mercy, and upon the Israel of God" Galatians 6:16, i. e., not among the Galatians only, but in the whole Church throughout the world. Since the whole people and Church of God is one, He lays down one law, which shall be fulfilled to the end; that those who, for their own ends, even although therein the instruments of God, shall in any way injure the people of God, shall be themselves punished by God. God makes Himself one with His people. "He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of My eye" Zechariah 2:8. So our Lord said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" Acts 9:4 and in the Day of Judgment He will say, "I was an hungered and ye gave me no meat. Forasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these My brethern, ye did it not to Me" Matthew 25:34-35. : "By calling them "My heritage," He shows that He will not on any terms part with them or suffer them to be lost, but will vindicate them to Himself forever."

Whom they have scattered among the nations - Such was the offence of the Assyrians and Babylonians, the first ""army," which God sent against His people. And for it, Nineveh and Babylon perished. : "Yet he does not speak of that ancient people, or of its enemies only, but of all the elect both in that people and in the Church of the Gentiles, and of all persecutors of the elect. For that people were a figure of the Church, and its enemies were a type of those who persecute the saints." The dispersion of God's former people by the pagan was renewed in those who persecuted Christ's disciples from "city to city," banished them, and confiscated their goods. Banishment to mines or islands were the slightest punishments of the early Christians .

2. Parallel to Zec 14:2, 3, 4, where the "Mount of Olives" answers to the "Valley of Jehoshaphat" here. The latter is called "the valley of blessing" (Berachah) (2Ch 20:26). It lies between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives and has the Kedron flowing through it. As Jehoshaphat overthrew the confederate foes of Judah, namely, Ammon, Moab, &c. (Ps 83:6-8), in this valley, so God was to overthrow the Tyrians, Zidonians, Philistines, Edom, and Egypt, with a similar utter overthrow (Joe 3:4, 19). This has been long ago fulfilled; but the ultimate event shadowed forth herein is still future, when God shall specially interpose to destroy Jerusalem's last foes, of whom Tyre, Zidon, Edom, Egypt, and Philistia are the types. As "Jehoshaphat" means "the judgment of Jehovah," the valley of Jehoshaphat may be used as a general term for the theater of God's final judgments on Israel's foes, with an allusion to the judgment inflicted on them by Jehoshaphat. The definite mention of the Mount of Olives in Zec 14:4, and the fact that this was the scene of the ascension, makes it likely the same shall be the scene of Christ's coming again: compare "this same Jesus … shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven" (Ac 1:11).

all nations—namely, which have maltreated Judah.

plead with them—(Isa 66:16; Eze 38:22).

my heritage Israel—(De 32:9; Jer 10:16). Implying that the source of Judah's redemption is God's free love, wherewith He chose Israel as His peculiar heritage, and at the same time assuring them, when desponding because of trials, that He would plead their cause as His own, and as if He were injured in their person.

I will also gather all nations: in the type, it is not simply all nations, but all those nations that have with hostile minds oppressed and scattered Judah; in the antitype, it is all nations that have been enemies to Christ and the church.

And will bring them down: this is spoken with respect to the low situation of the place, being a valley, and we descend into low parts; so here they are caused to go down

into the valley of Jehoshaphat: much difficulty interpreters find in explaining this; we must look to it as a type to somewhat signified by it, and so apply it. The valley of blessing where Jehoshaphat discomfited mighty and numerous enemies, and then triumphed in God with praises to him, 2 Chronicles 20:22, &c.: so the whole church may be this valley of blessing, and in this God will judge the enemies of his people, and give them occasions of praising God for his righteous judgments; and Jerusalem his church shall see this, as the inhabitants of Jerusalem might see what is done in the valley of Jehoshaphat, if they would be at a little pains to go out of the city.

Will plead with them; after the manner of a just and impartial judge I will debate my people’s cause, and do them right.

There; in midst of my church, signified by the valley of Jehoshaphat, the valley of the judgment of God.

For my people; Judah, the two tribes, but, as in their history, bearing a type of the church of Christ.

For my heritage Israel; purchased and possessed by me ever since they were brought out of Egypt; though many times invaded and injured by their unjust neighbours, who were so much their enemies because they were my peculiar people, and kept to my worship.

Whom they have scattered among the nations; either by force driving them out of their habitations, or else carrying them into captivity, and dispersing them in their insolent humour, of which dispersion more follows, Joel 3:3,6,8.

And parted my land; divided among themselves the land I gave to my people to hold immediately of me; so it was my land that they divided, their robbery and spoil was sacrilege. Such is the injustice and oppression of persecutors of the church now, and so God will judge them in due time. I will also gather all nations,.... Or cause or suffer them to be gathered together against his people; not the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites, in the times of Jehoshaphat, as Aben Ezra; but either the Turks, prophesied of under the name of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel, Ezekiel 38:1; and a multitude of other nations with them, who shall be gathered together against the Jews, to regain the land of Judea from them, they will upon their conversion inhabit; or else all the antichristian kings and nations, which shall be gathered to the battle of the great day of God Almighty, Revelation 16:14;

and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat: Kimchi thinks this was some valley near to Jerusalem, in which Jehoshaphat built or wrought some works, and so was called by his name: Joseph Ben Gorion (x) speaks of a valley, called the valley of Jehoshaphat, which was near Jerusalem, to the further end of which one Zachariah, a good man, in the times of the Jewish wars, was rolled and died, being cast down from the top of a tower upon the wall east of Jerusalem; and which is confirmed by R. Abraham, as quoted by Lively; and the true Josephus says (y), that the valley into which this man was cast lay directly under Jerusalem; and Benjamin of Tudela (z) makes mention of a valley of this name, which he says lies between Jerusalem and the mount of Olives; where Jerom (a) places it by the name of Caelas; with whom Mr. Maundrell (b) agrees, who says that this valley lies between Mount Moriah and Mount Olivet, and has its name from the sepulchre of Jehoshaphat: and, according to Lyra on the place, who is followed by Adrichomius (c), it is the same with the valley of Kidron, which was so situated; but, why that should be called the valley of Jehoshaphat, no reason is given. Aben Ezra and others are of opinion that this is the same with the valley of Berachah, where Jehoshaphat obtained a very great victory over many nations, 2 Chronicles 20:1; but it does not appear to have been called by his name, and, besides, seems to be at a great distance from Jerusalem; though there may be an allusion to it, that as many nations were there collected together and destroyed, so shall it be in the latter day; and I am of opinion that no proper name of a place is here meant, as going by it in common, but is so called from the judgment of God here executed upon his and his people's enemies. So Jarchi calls it "the valley of judgments"; Jehoshaphat signifying "the judgment" of the Lord: Kimchi says it may be so called because of judgment, the Lord there pleading with the nations, and judging them: and in the Targum it is rendered,

"the valley of the division of judgment:''

and to me it designs no other than Armageddon, the seat of the battle of Almighty God, Revelation 16:16; and which may signify the destruction of their troops; See Gill on Revelation 16:16;

and will plead with them there for my people, and for my heritage Israel; the people of the Jews, who will now be converted, who will have the "loammi", Hosea 1:9, taken off of them, and will be called the people of the living God again, and be reckoned by him as his portion and inheritance; though not them only, but all the saints; all that have separated from antichrist, his doctrine and worship, and have suffered by him:

whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land; Kimchi refers this to the scattering of the Jews by Titus and his army, and the partition of Judea among them, which is not amiss; in consequence of which they are still a scattered people, and their land has been parted between Turks and Papists (d); sometimes inhabited by the one, and sometimes by the other, and now by both, on whom God will take vengeance; he will plead the cause of his people, by the severe judgments he will inflict on his and their enemies. This may respect the persecuting of the Christians from place to place, and seizing on their lands and estates, and parting them, as well as the dispersion of the Jews, and the partition of the land of Canaan.

(x) Hist. Heb. l. 6. c. 27. (y) De Bello Jud. l. 4. c. 5. sect. 4. (z) Massaot, sive ltinera, p. 44. (a) De locis Hebr. fol. 92. C. (b) Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 103, 106. Ed. 7. (c) Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 172. (d) Written about 1750. Editor.

I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the {b} valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.

(b) It appears that he alludes to the great victory of Jehoshaphat, whom God used without man's help to destroy the enemies, 2Ch 20:20-26; also he is referring to this word Jehoshaphat, which signifies pleading or judgment, because God would judge the enemies of his Church, as he did there.

2. I will also gather] I will gather: ‘also’ is a misrendering of the Heb. idiom employed (cf. Amos 3:14).

the valley of Jehoshaphat] as is shewn by the play upon the name, which, both here and in Joel 3:12, immediately follows, the place is chosen as the scene of Jehovah’s judgement on account of its name (which means “Jah judgeth”). No doubt there was an actual valley, so named after the king, though where it was, is quite uncertain. It may have been the spot (though this is not called a “valley”) in which, according to a tradition reported by the Chronicler (2 Chronicles 20:20-24), the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites, who invaded Judah in the days of Jehoshaphat, fell upon, and slaughtered one another; or it may have been identical with the “valley of Berachah” (or of Blessing) in which four days afterwards (2 Chronicles 20:26) the victorious Judahites assembled to “bless” Jehovah; or, as Joel seems to have in view some spot nearer Jerusalem than this valley (cf. ib. 2 Chronicles 20:27-28), it may have been the fairly broad and open valley between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, which already in Eusebius’ time[47] (though we know not upon what grounds) bore, as it bears still, the name, “valley of Jehoshaphat.” This valley is elsewhere always called the Wâdy (Heb. naḥal: see on Amos 5:24) of the Kidron (2 Samuel 15:23; 2 Kings 23:4; 2 Kings 23:6 al.), but it seems to be sufficiently wide to have been termed an ‘çmeḳ, especially as even the ‘ravine’ (gai’) of Hinnom (Joshua 15:8), on the S. of Jerusalem, appears to be so designated in Jeremiah 31:40. Happily, nothing turns here upon the identification of the spot meant, the symbolism of the name being alone significant.

[47] See the Onomasticon, ed. Lagarde, p. 273.

valley] or vale: Heb. ‘çmeḳ, lit. deepening, “a highlander’s word for a valley as he looks down into it, always applied to wide avenues running up into a mountainous country, like the Vale of Elah, the Vale of Hebron, and the Vale of Ajalon” (G. A. Smith, Geogr. p. 384). In both A.V. and R.V. much confusion is occasioned by the same English word “valley” being used unfortunately for both ‘çmeḳ and gai’, though the latter denoted a much narrower opening, such as we should describe as a ravine or glen. For a list of both the ‘çmeḳs and the gai’s named in the O.T., see Stanley, S. and P. Appendix, §§ 1, 2; and comp. G. A. Smith, l.c. p. 654 f.

plead] the reflexive, or reciprocal, conjugation of shâphat, to judge. The play cannot be preserved exactly in English; though one might paraphrase the “valley of Jehoshaphat” by “the valley of God’s judgement,” and say that Jehovah intended to “contend there in judgement with all nations” on behalf of His people. Plead means dispute in judgement, as a litigant, Jehovah standing on one side, and the nations on the other: for the same term, similarly applied, see Jeremiah 25:31; Ezekiel 38:22; Isaiah 66:16.

scattered among the nations] evidently a considerable dispersion of Israel among the Gentiles is presupposed by these words: comp. Ezekiel 11:17; Ezekiel 12:15; Ezekiel 20:34; Ezekiel 20:41; Ezekiel 22:15; Ezekiel 28:25; Ezekiel 36:19, with reference to the Jews exiled by Nebuchadnezzar in b.c. 597 and 586.

divided my land] viz. among new occupants: cp. for the expression Joshua 13:7; Amos 7:17; Micah 2:4.Verse 2 represents pictorially God's passing sentence on the nations that had been hostile to his people, with a general summary of the injuries inflicted on them. I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat. More than eight centuries before the Christian era King Jehoshaphat had gained a splendid victory over the allied army of the neighbouring peoples - Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites - who had united their forces against Jerusalem. The king had been assured of this victory by the prophecy of Jahaziel. Songs of praise had preceded the battle, and songs of thanksgiving had succeeded the victory; hence the place was called the valley of Berachah, or blessing. The remembrance of such a remarkable deliverance, not more than half a century before the prophet's time, would make a vivid impression on the mind of the prophet and his people. Accordingly, this splendid piece of past history is interwoven with the prophet's prediction of the future, and forms its groundwork. It is as though he said, "On a memorable occasion and in a well-known valley God was pleased to vouchsafe to his people and prince a glorious victory over the combined forces of their enemies; so at a future period, under the reign of Prince Messiah, God will subdue and destroy the Gentile nations that had oppressed his people." It matters little whether we understand the valley of Jehoshaphat in the literal sense, as perhaps the valley of the Kedron between Jerusalem and Olivet, or in a figurative sense; the representation is equally appropriate, and the imagery equally impressive. "This," says Aben Ezra, "was the war in which the children of Moab and Ammon and Seir combined their force together to a very great multitude, while Jehoshaphat had out of Judah and Benjamin mighty men of valour; and the valley of Jehoshaphat is the valley of Berachah, for Jehoshaphat called its name so." Kimchi gives the following alternative sense: "There shall be the war, and this valley belonged to King Jehoshaphat; perhaps he built there, or made there a work, and it was called after his name, and the valley was near to the city of Jerusalem; or it is called the valley of Jehoshaphat after the name of the judgment, as he said, 'I will plead with them there.'" And will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations. God would plead, or contend, with the nations, and pass sentence upon them on account of their dispersion of his heritage - nachalathi, his peculiar people, and their partition of his land, 'artsi, or kingdom. This must be referred to the long subsequent time when Palestine became a Roman province, and its capital levelled with the ground; then the great dispersion of the covenant people among the nations commenced, and continues till the present day. The prophecy rises with a vigorous swing, as in Hosea 5:8, to the prediction of judgment. Hosea 5:1. "The trumpet to thy mouth! Like an eagle upon the house of Jehovah! Because they transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law. Hosea 5:2. To me will they cry: My God, we know Thee, we Israel!" The first sentence of Hosea 5:1 is an exclamation, and therefore has no verb. The summons issues from Jehovah, as the suffixes in the last sentences show, and is addressed to the prophet, who is to blow the trumpet, as the herald of Jehovah, and give the people tidings of the approaching judgment (see at Hosea 5:8). The second sentence gives the alarming message to be delivered: like an eagle comes the foe, or the judgment upon the house of Jehovah. The simile of the eagle, that shoots down upon its prey with the rapidity of lightning, points back to the threat of Moses in Deuteronomy 28:49. The "house of Jehovah" is neither the temple at Jerusalem (Jerome, Theod., Cyr.), the introduction of which here would be at variance with the context; nor the principal temple of Samaria, with the fall of which the whole kingdom would be ruined (Ewald, Sim.), since the temples erected for the calf-worship at Daniel and Bethel are called Bēth bâmōth, not Bēth Yehōvâh; nor even the land of Jehovah, either here or at Hosea 9:15 (Hitzig), for a land is not a house; but Israel was the house of Jehovah, as being a portion of the congregation of the Lord, as in Hosea 9:15; Numbers 12:7; Jeremiah 12:7; Zechariah 9:8; cf. οἶκος Θεοῦ in Hebrews 3:6 and 1 Timothy 3:15. The occasion of the judgment was the transgression of the covenant and law of the Lord, which is more particularly described in 1 Timothy 3:4. In this distress they will call for help to Jehovah: "My God (i.e., each individual will utter this cry), we know Thee?" Israel is in apposition to the subject implied in the verb. They know Jehovah, so far as He has revealed Himself to the whole nation of Israel; and the name Israel is in itself a proof that they belong to the people of God.
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